MGMT 368 - Business Ethics


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MGMT 368 - Business Ethics

  1. 1. MGMT 368 - Business Ethics May 31, 2010 – July 24, 2010 Session 09/55Online Course Course Description This course provides the student with the means for analysis of principles used to evaluate ethical issues facing today's business community as well as to formulate possible solutions. This course satisfies the General Education Ethics requirement for Business Administration and Computer Information Systems majors. Prerequisites: MGMT 330. I. Overview and Course Goals Welcome to Business Ethics online. This course will focus on issues and perspectives of right and wrong in American business. The course begins with a survey of philosophical approaches to ethics and morality and continues in an application of these approaches to real world cases drawn from the functional areas of business. Each week we'll focus on the understanding and application of philosophical ethical perspectives to actual business situations through our online discussions, which are based on your reading of the text and cases. Week 1: Do you think "Business Ethics" is an oxymoron? If you do, you will be challenged in the first week! We will study just what "right and wrong" can mean in general and how it has and probably will continue to be applied by stockholders and stakeholders in the American business experience. We will also explore the difference between a conventional and a principled approach to ethics. Week 2: Do the ends justify the means? If we make business decisions that provide the greatest good for the greatest number, are we doing the right thing? The just thing? How can we use these principles to evaluate business decisions? We begin our journey toward understanding ethical principles this week by focusing on classical utilitarian approaches to ethics. Week 3: Should we make ethical decisions based on principles and canons regardless of the consequences? Is “treating others as we wish to be treated” a sufficient guide to right and wrong? What is justice and how is it to be defined in a principled way? How might these canons and principles apply to decisions in business? Our journey toward principled approaches to right and wrong continues in an examination of a second major approach, a
  2. 2. deontological one that guides us on right and wrong by giving us rules and rights regardless of outcomes. Week 4: We'll begin to apply principled approaches to ethics by exploring the morality of institutions, namely capitalism and corporations. Can capitalism be defended against moral criticism? What moral obligations do the modern corporation, and those within it, owe to stockholders and stakeholders? The idea and form of a "social audit" and "codes of conduct" will be introduced and explored with several real world examples from the increasing number of companies who are taking it upon themselves to address ethical issues. Week 5: We turn our attention to the ethics of multinational corporations and the role they play in the countries in which they operate. Again, our goal is to understand the ethical issues in these areas, particularly those involving the utilitarian and deontological conclusions that principled ethical analysis would suggest. We will discuss some real world cases. Week 6: We will focus on ethical issues involving executive compensation, whistle-blowing and advertising. Who decides how much a CEO is paid? Are there "right" and "wrong" approaches to marketing and advertising? We'll discuss these questions in the context of the application of utilitarian and deontological approaches involving real world situations and cases. Week 7: We will consider ethical issues involving the employment relationship. What are the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees? What are the ethical issues in hiring, promotion, and compensation? What is discrimination and is it immoral under the utilitarian point of view, Kantian-type analysis, or a Rawlsian-like approach? Week 8 (the final week): We take a global perspective and consider suggested ethical codes of conduct for multinational corporations and other organizations doing business across geopolitical boundaries. This is a good chance to pull together the main threads of the course in summary fashion in a global context. II. Course Objectives To describe the important moral issues that arise in various business contexts; To identify the moral, social, and economic environments within which these problems occur; To identify the ethical concepts that are relevant to resolving those moral problems, and To demonstrate the necessary reasoning and analytical skills for doing so. Measurable Learning Outcomes
  3. 3. Describe widely accepted consequential/teleological (Utilitarian) and non- consequential/deontological (Kantian) theories of ethics. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of major theories of ethics. Analyze ethical dilemmas in business. Evaluate the economic justice of capitalism. Prepare a written professional case analysis. Prepare and deliver a professional oral case presentation. Describe the utilitarian view of justice. Describe the libertarian approach to justice. Describe Rawls’ theory of justice. III. Course Policies Student Conduct The Instructor reserves the right to manage a positive learning environment and thus will not tolerate inappropriate conduct in the course. Students are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College’s Code of Student Conduct and Ethics Code for Computer users. These codes can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. A copy may be obtained by calling the Campus Life office at 573 875 7400. There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status. Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the Coordinator for Disability Services. Until the student has been cleared through the disability services office, accommodations do not have to be granted. It is vital if you are a student who has a documented disability to read the entire syllabus before signing up for the course. The structure or the content of the course can make an accommodation not feasible. The policies and related syllabus matters remain subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances. Online Participation This course is offered online, using technology provided by Columbia College. Participation on-line is expected to be continuous throughout the course. Absences from scheduled activities may result in failing the course. Emergency leaves for scheduled activities must be documented with the Instructor. Students are expected to read the assigned texts each week and login to the class conferencing, and post message(s) to each of the topics provided in the Discussion. Active participation in the course will guide students in studying for the exams and in researching for the assignments. See "Ground Rules for Online Participation" for additional information.
  4. 4. If you have questions about navigating the course environment, you may wish to consult the demonstration course at The student manual ( ) is another great resource. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday, except for Week 8 when the week and the course will end Saturday at midnight. Both Discussions and Dropbox assignments are scheduled for completion during a class week and should be submitted or posted by the due date. The Discussions are due on Wednesday to allow for interaction with replies during the rest of the week and due no later than Sunday midnight. The Dropbox assignments are due at the end of the week. NOTE: Because this is an online course designed to get feedback on assignments to you directly via Internet, you must make prior arrangements with the Instructor before submitting a paper in any other way. If you ever have problems transmitting your assignments to me, telephone me immediately. Ground Rules for Online Participation Students should use e-mail and the Dropbox for private messages to the Instructor and other students. The discussions section of the course is for public messages so we can see what each other have to say about any given topic and respond if desired. Students are expected to participate in online discussions as well as with other appropriate online activities, including sending/receiving messages and navigating and conducting research over the World Wide Web. All students will observe conventions of "online etiquette" when communicating online which includes courtesy to all users. If you have a problem accessing the Columbia College website or a problem logging on to eServices, you should contact the help desk. In addition, help desk technicians will provide support with computer, telecom and audio visual questions and issues. The help desk staff are currently receiving training on the basic areas of D2L as well, so they are a good resource for students who have “how to” questions. The Solution Center can be reached via phone at 573-875-HELP (4357) or 800-231-2391 x 4357. They can be reached via email at Students may get assistance with computer related problems through the instructor emailing the D2L helpdesk at Written assignments should be prepared in MS Word and posted as an attachment to the Dropbox and/or to the Discussions section. Academic Honesty
  5. 5. All Columbia College policies are in effect as described in the Academic Dishonesty/Misconduct section of the current college Catalog. All your work must be your own unless collaboration has been authorized. If collaboration is authorized you must acknowledge the collaboration in writing. Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting as one's own the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form is cheating through plagiarism. If you are unsure what constitutes plagiarism, review the rules of original writing at the following web site: This site provides valuable information, including examples of plagiarism. To review some plagiarism tools available to students, take a look at and The content of these plagiarism sites would, if you were lucky, get you a "D" in this course if you were not caught. It is substandard work indeed, but you will almost always be caught if you try to cheat, due to the plagiarism prevention tools available to instructors. Here are two sites that may be of interest: and Plagiarism will not be tolerated and the claim of ignorance is no excuse. Those found plagiarizing may fail the course. If I determine the plagiarism was done, even in innocence, the student shall receive an F for the assignment. If it happens a second time during the course, the student will receive an F for the course. Collaboration with other students is not permitted without explicit permission from the instructor. This is a form of academic dishonesty. Roommates and spouses taking the same course should be particularly careful. Levels of Communication We will be using a minimum of two levels of communication in this course, one formal, and the other informal. All Dropbox assignments are formal. They should be written as if you are communicating with a client. The formal rules of proper English and grammar apply for these submissions. There are no penalties for misspellings, incomplete sentences, or other violations of grammatical rules in the discussions. Your messages must be original and intelligible. You must communicate effectively. Grading Policy The grading system is designed to efficiently test knowledge of business ethics while diversifying risk that a bad performance on any one effort leads to failure. Each student is responsible for: Completing weekly reading assignments. Completing individual and collaborative online discussion assignments. Completing requested Dropbox assignments. Completing three papers (two assigned and one of choice). Completing midterm and final examinations.
  6. 6. You will know in advance the standards for each assignment. My goal is to give you prompt, clear, and useful feedback to help you become a better ethical thinker and writer. The grading scale is based on the percentage of points earned, as follows: A = 90-100; B = 80-89; C = 70- 79; D = 60-69; F = 0-59. Final grades for the course are absolute. As an example, a 79.4% is recorded as 79.4% and will not be rounded up. Given the diversity of the grade portfolio and resultant minimum risk, there is no route to "extra credit." Do your best, make use of the text, online learning center, and course resources and you should expect acceptable returns. You will be able to track your average exactly throughout the course using the online grade book. Late Policy Discussion: Discussions must be posted during the week they are due in order to receive credit. Three Papers/Dropbox Assignments: If no prior arrangements are made with the instructor, dropbox assignments submitted after the Sunday they are due will be assessed a penalty of 10% each day they are late. Exams: If no prior arrangements are made with the instructor, the midterm exam will close at midnight Sunday the end of week five and the final exam will close at midnight Saturday the end of week eight. General Note It should be noted that this grading policy has historically resulted in an academically acceptable standard of deviation of quiz and examination scores based on the comprehension of ethical concepts following from ability and effort. The emphasis is on revealed understanding of ethical concepts observed in application and explication involving the functional areas of business, and not mere recall of information from the text. Adult learners typically expect no less from a college course, whether delivered live or online. IV. Grades Readings should be completed prior to submitting assignments for the week. Discussions Assignments should be completed by Wednesday of the assigned week, and responses to classmates should be posted by Sunday of the assigned week, which is the deadline for both. Please post your initial response early in the week so others will have a chance to respond. Discussion postings should be done after the readings are completed and before other assignments due in the week. Dropbox Assignments are short biographies of individuals who are celebrated either because they have contributed a commonly adopted ethical theory or because they have earned acclaim
  7. 7. for exemplary ethical conduct. These assignments should tell something about the person and their contributions to our study of business ethics. If no prior arrangements are made with the instructor, dropbox assignments submitted after the Sunday they are due will be assessed a penalty of 10% each day they are late. Papers will involve ethical analysis of a real world business case. The topics of the first two will be assigned. The topic of the third paper will be the student’s choice. Detailed paper assignments appear in the “Dropbox” section of the online course. Exams The Midterm and Comprehensive Final exams are “open book” and taken online. They consist of multiple choice questions. The midterm is worth 140 points and the final is worth 200 points. Make-up examinations are allowed only for excused absences. WEEK ASSIGNMENT MAX. PTS DUE DATES Discussion #1 response Wednesday Week 1 30 Points Discussion #1 replies Sunday Dropbox assignment #1 30 Points Sunday Discussion #2 response Wednesday Week 2 30 Points Discussion #2 replies Sunday Dropbox assignment #2 30 Points Sunday Discussion #3 response Wednesday Week 3 30 Points Discussion #3 replies Sunday Dropbox assignment #3 30 Points Sunday Paper #1: Utilitarianism 100 points Sunday Discussion #4 response Wednesday Week 4 30 Points Discussion #4 replies Sunday Paper #2: Deontology 100 Points Sunday Discussion #5 response Wednesday Week 5 30 Points Discussion #5 replies Sunday Midterm Exam 140 Points Sunday Discussion #6 response Wednesday Week 6 30 Points Discussion #6 replies Sunday Dropbox assignment #6 30 Points Sunday Discussion #7 response Wednesday Week 7 30 Points Discussion #7 replies Sunday Paper #3: Topic of Choice 100 Points Sunday Discussion #8 response Wednesday Week 8 30 Points Discussion #8 replies Saturday Final Examination 200 Points Saturday Total 1000 Points
  8. 8. Rubric for Discussion Criteria Description Points Content Provides substantive comments with content that addresses 15 the issue and enhances other students’ understanding Level of participation Provides two or more substantive responses to classmates 15 that extend the discussion Total 30 Rubric for Biographies Criteria Description Points Content Content addresses issues critical to understanding the 15 contributions of this individual to the field Supporting Details Provides supporting details, examples, and graphics 10 Format Uses MLA style 5 Total 30 Rubric for Papers Criteria Description Points Introduction Presents the problem and outlines the case; identifies pertinent details as 20 well as the issues and stakeholders involved Moral Presents the moral approach used and uses steps of a utilitarian or duty- 20 Argument based analysis Alternative Presents and responds to alternatives that someone on the other side of 20 the question might take Conclusion Presents a strong and persuasive conclusion with recommendations for 20 action References References 3 citations – including the DeGeorge text and 2 outside 10 sources Uses reliable sources Sources properly cited, using MLA style (internal citations and reference list) Format 3-5 pages in length 10 Double-spaced 12-point font 1” margins follows MLA style
  9. 9. Total 100 V. Required Text Business Ethics, 7th ed., by Richard T. DeGeorge. (Prentice Hall, 2010), 523 pages with index. ISBN-13: 978-0-205-73193-0 The text can be ordered from MBS Books online by pointing your browser to, or by telephone at 1-800-325-3252. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers 7th ed., Gibaldi, ISBN: 978-1-60329-024-1 Publ.: Mod.Lang. Assoc.of Am. You will need access to a MLA handbook to complete assignments. MLA guidelines are required for format and resources. You will need in-depth knowledge of how to cite MLA sources within the text of a paper. Purchase of this text is NOT mandatory but access to the proper MLA format is necessary. Students: Please note that the use of an eBook carries certain risks: information may be missing due to copyright restrictions, the book cannot be resold to MBS, and an eBook purchase cannot be refunded. VI. Course Schedule Week 1: Conventional Morality and the “Myth of Amoral Business” This week we will get acquainted with each other and with the course expectations and discuss the myth of amoral business, Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development, and conventional morality. Readings: Chapters 1 and 2. Internet: You may find it helpful to browse some of the web sites provided on the resource list for this course just to see what is there. You are not responsible for any particular site or content; the goal is to give yourself a tour of the resources. Discussion: Introduce yourself in the “introductions” topics of our class discussions, which is our “virtual classroom.” Please give us more than your name. Include your work activities, hobbies, interest in the course, and any other information that can help us get to know you. This is not a graded assignment. Discussions Assignment #1: This graded assignment for the Discussions section is on the general question "When being presented with an ethical problem you have not previously encountered, what criteria will you use to determine your action?" Write a response to the question and post it in the discussion. Tell us how your answer compares with others as well as replying to other student’s postings.
  10. 10. Dropbox Assignment #1: After watching the Kohlberg video in the Content section under Week 1 and upon completion of the readings, write a short essay in which you complete the following: "On Kohlberg's scale, I consider myself to be . . .” Be sure to define this scale and relate your own sense of where you are on the scale to other levels, with a brief explanation. The focus of your paper should be on why you think you are on the particular level. See the dropbox for details. As with all written assignments, your response should be double-spaced, using 12 point font, with one-inch margins. Week 2: Systematic Approaches: Teleological Utilitarianism This week's readings from the text identify a classic approach to deciding what is right and wrong, that of the Utilitarian school. Those predisposed to this approach weigh the morality of a given action by asking "did it do the greatest good for the greatest number?" We will study and discuss the typical steps taken in this approach and how it could relate to business decisions. Readings: Chapter 3 Internet: Do a search on Jeremy Bentham and learn who he was. Discussions Assignment #2: After watching the Utilitarianism movie in the Content tab under Week 2 write a response to the question “Does the end justify the means?” Give examples of when the end justifies the means and when it doesn’t. Post your responses in the Discussions section and feel free to respond to other students’ postings. Dropbox Assignment #2: Write a 2 page biography of Jeremy Bentham and his contribution to the study of Ethics. As mentioned in week one, your paper should be double-spaced, 12-point font, with one-inch margins. See the dropbox for details. Assignment of First Paper: Due in appropriate dropbox by end of Week 3: You should begin working on your first paper assignment, to be due the end of Week 3. It will involve a specific application of Utilitarian Ethics to a famous or infamous business decision. Detailed guidelines on topic, organization, and approach may be found by clicking on the “First Paper” dropbox or on the “Content” tab on your Course Navigation Bar and then clicking on “First Paper.” Week 3: Systematic Approaches: Deontological Duties, Rights, and Justice This week we explore approaches to ethics based on the deontological idea that matters of right and wrong are intrinsic and independent of the outcomes of individual or organizational action. We will discuss teleological views of ethics involving the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Kantian Categorical Imperative, and theories of social justice in the context of steps and cases. By the end of the week, you should understand these approaches, as well as have a general understanding of the steps to take in any general moral analysis. Readings: Chapters 4 and 5 Internet: Do a search on Immanuel Kant and find out who he was.
  11. 11. Discussions Assignment #3: This week the assignment for the Discussions section is to answer the question, “What does Rawls mean by a veil of ignorance? What purpose does it serve?” Illustrate how the technique might be used in solving an issue of justice. Post your response in the Discussions section and feel free to respond to other student’s postings. First Paper Due: The first paper on applied utilitarian ethical analysis is due in the appropriate dropbox folder by the end of the week. Dropbox Assignment #3: Watch the Kant Attack Ad video located in the Content tab under Week 3 then write a 2 page biography of Immanuel Kant and his contribution to the study of business ethics. See the Dropbox for details. Assignment of Second Paper: Due in appropriate dropbox by end of Week 4. You should begin working on your second paper assignment, to be due the end of Week 4. It will involve a specific application of Deontological (Kantian and/or Rawlsian) Ethics to a famous or infamous business decision. Detailed guidelines on topic, organization, and approach may be found by clicking on the “Second Paper” dropbox or on the “Content” tab on your Course Navigation Bar and then clicking on “Second Paper.” Week 4: Ethics and Justice of Capitalistic and Corporate Organizations This week we will examine American Capitalism and answer the following questions: Is capitalism moral? What are the moral responsibilities of corporations to stockholders and stakeholders? Can we morally defend the American version of capitalism? Readings: Chapters 6, 7, 8, and 11. Discussions Assignment #4: American Capitalism. Is a large discrepancy between executive pay and that of the average worker unfair to the worker? Is it unfair to increase a CEO’s compensation at the same time that he or she downsizes the workforce? What is an ethically justifiable way to determine the pay of a CEO of a large corporation? Explain. Before answering, watch the “Lehman Brothers CEO testifies on Capitol Hill” video in the Content section under Week 4. Dropbox Assignment: None this week. Second Paper Due: Your second paper on applied deontological ethical analysis is due in the appropriate dropbox by the end of the week. Week 5: Ethics of Multinational Corporations This week we will examine the role that multinational corporations play in the countries it operates in. What moral responsibilities does a multinational organization have and may they ethically operate in a country that engages in gross abuses of human rights? Readings: Chapter 9 Discussions Assignment #5: Is it morally sufficient for a U.S. company to comply with the laws of the foreign country in which it operates? Why or why not? What guidelines should a multinational use to determine a fair wage to its employees in a less developed
  12. 12. country? Before answering, read the article “Multinational Corporations’ Ethical Obligations” in the Content section under Week 5. Dropbox Assignment: None this week. Exam #1: This exam consists of 35 multiple choice questions from Chapters 1-9 and 11. 1. Access the Exam in the Quizzes section of the system platform and select the best answer. Your exam will be automatically graded. You have 90 minutes from the time you begin the exam to complete it. After completion, you will see your answers and the correct answer. Week 6: Morality of Corporations, Executive Compensation, Whistle-Blowing, and Truth in Advertising This week we turn our attention to the morality of corporations, ethics of executive compensation, whistle-blowing and truth in advertising. How may utilitarian and/or deontological approaches be used to determine executive compensation? When would whistle-blowing be morally prohibited and how much loyalty should an employee owe a firm? Is manipulation and coercion in advertising moral? Readings: Chapters 10, 14 and 15. Internet: Read about Dr. Wigand at Many of you will know him as the subject of the movie “The Insider,” starring Russell Crowe and Al Pacino. Discussions Assignment #6: You are asked to post: 1. an example of a consumer product currently being sold that you feel is not a morally responsible product, 2. an example of when whistle blowing is morally mandatory and when it is morally wrong, 3. an example of when marketing has crossed the line and become unethical. You may want to base your choices on examples from observations or experiences in your personal or professional life. To stimulate the discussion, watch the “ Early TV Commercials” videos in the Content section of the course under Week 6. Dropbox Assignment #4: Write a 2 page biography of Dr. Jeffrey Wigand. See the dropbox for details. Assignment of Third Paper: Due in appropriate Dropbox by end of Week 7: You should begin working on your third paper assignment, to be due the end of Week 7. The topic is your choice. Detailed guidelines may be found by clicking on the “Paper of Choice” Dropbox or on the “Content” tab on your Course Navigation Bar and then clicking on “Paper of Choice.” Week 7: Ethics of Wages and Employment What are the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees? When do wage differences compensate ethically and when do they not? What is discrimination and how are we to morally evaluate remedies for it?
  13. 13. Readings: Chapters 12, 13, 16, and 17. Internet: Explore appropriate links involving wages, employment, and discrimination found in the general pages of links provided in the resource list for this course as time and interest permit. Discussions Assignment #7: Watch the “Home Depot” video in the Content section under Week 7 then answer the question: To what extent do employees retain the right of freedom of speech on the job? Off the job? What about freedom of expression? Are there limits to employee’s rights to freedom of expression on or off the job? Explain and give examples. Respond at will to your fellow students' remarks. Dropbox Assignment: None this week. Third Paper Due: Third paper of your choosing is due in the appropriate dropbox by the end of the week. Course Evaluation: Please point your browser to your “eServices” home page and help the college and instructor improve online education in general and this course in particular with your ratings and comments about what you found to be exemplary and non- exemplary during your online study of business ethics by following the “evaluations” link found there. The availability dates and site will be posted on the Course Home page under “Announcements.” Week 8: Ethics and Justice in International Business This week we will consider “best practices” for a multinational company, exploring problems and ethical guidelines for multinational business practices. Readings: Chapters 18, 19, 20, and 21. Internet: Watch the Rev. Leon Sullivan Documentary Excerpt in the Content section under Week 8. Discussions Assignment #8: This week you are asked to critically assess Merck’s deal with INBio. Was it ethically justifiable? Why or why not? Who, if anyone, owns the many species found in nature? Do they belong to the people who own the land or water on or in which they are found? Dropbox Assignment: None this week. Final Examination: Exam #2: This exam covers Chapters 10 and 12-21 with 50 multiple choice questions. Your exam will be automatically graded. You have 120 minutes from the time you begin the exam to complete it. After completion, you will see your answers and the correct answer. VII. Instructor Information Darryl Sanborn Email: Telephone: (720) 255-6645